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2005-02-18 17:06:00
Embassy Paris
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 001081 



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) 04 PARIS 7224 (B) 04 Paris 3248

1. Summary. France advanced its science agenda with the
establishment of a National Research Agency (ANR, ref A)
which held its first meeting on February 15. This new,
NSF-style, "agency of means" is part of the government's
ambitious effort to renovate France's research
organization and boost science funding in strategic
areas. The ANR's legal foundation, structure, and
working mechanisms remain under discussion. Details are
expected once the new research bill package is approved,
possibly next month. In early January, President Chirac
also announced the creation of a new agency for
industrial innovation. The relationship between the
industrial innovation agency and the ANR remains to be
defined. End summary.

ANR sees the light of day


2. The ANR's mission is to allocate grants to scientists
or research teams working in partnership with public
research establishments on the basis of a competitive,
merit-based review system. Projects will be selected
according to four priority areas set by the GOF:
energy/sustainable development; health, agriculture, and
food; information and communication technologies;
nanosciences and nanotechnologies. The ANR's 2005 budget-
-350 million Euros--will be financed by the sale of
French gold reserves and receipts from the privatization
of French parastatals. According to the French Research
Ministry, the agency's budget will regularly increase to
reach a significant annual 1.47 billion euros budget by

2010. The ANR is described as "slim in structure" with a
staff of only thirty or so employees. The leanness of
the agency is designed to enhance responsiveness in
providing research grants. Calls for proposals will be
issued in the coming weeks and the first grant will
reportedly be funded before summer. The ANR will also
support research and technology innovation networks and
assist in funding non-thematic, spontaneous projects
proposed by the science community.

An "Independent" Agency?


3. The ANR's relationships with the Research Ministry
and public research establishments, its legal status,
organization and operating modes are to be discussed and
clarified in the coming weeks. Two members of the
Research Ministry will play key roles. Gilles Bloch,
current Deputy-Head of Cabinet for Research Minister
Franois d'Aubert, will head the new agency. Jean-
Jacques Gagnepain, Director of the Technology Department
within the Research Ministry, has been elected as
President of the sixteen-member administrative board.
The board includes eight representatives of the
ministries involved (Research, Education, Industry,
Health, Budget), one representative of the main public
research agencies (CNRS, CEA, INRA, INRIA, INSERM - the
largest publicly-funded scientific instiutions), two
representatives from the industrial sector and a
representative from the Association of University

Bloch - `Polytechicien'


4. Gilles Bloch, 43, a doctor of medicine, graduated
from the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique and holds a PHD
in biophysics. He started his research carrier at the
Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in 1989 and became Deputy-
Director of the life science division in 2000. He also
worked as visiting researcher at the Nuclear Magnetic
Resonance Center at Yale university (1992-93). Since
2002, he has served as technical adviser to the Research
Minister in life sciences, health, and bioethics.

Industrial innovation agency still gestating.



5. President Chirac's announcement in early January
concerning the creation of an industrial innovation
agency reportedly took the Research Ministry by surprise.
This agency, which will be placed under the direct
supervision of the Prime Minister's office, will
reportedly receive a two billion euros budget over the
next three years (500 million euros in 2005). These
funds are to be derived from non-budgetary sources
(receipts from privatizations). The respective roles of
the ANR and the industrial innovation agency have yet to
be clarified. (Note: This new agency was a major
recommendation of a report for a new French industrial
policy commissioned by the Raffarin Government and
released in January 2005. This report, referred to as
the "Beffa report," advocates the establishment of an
industrial innovation agency to focus public-private
cooperation on big innovative projects. End Note)

Rough birthing process for the new agencies.


6. The creation of these two agencies is part of an
ambitious effort by the government to rethink its
research strategy, organization, and funding. It has
proved to be a painful and lengthy process (ref B). One
year after the French researchers took to the streets
under the movement `Sauvons la Recherche' (Save
Research), the French science community continues to fear
the creation of new structures that could favor funding
of projects to the detriment of funding of labs and
salaries of public researchers, and favor applied and
developmental research to the detriment of basic
research. The draft of the new research bill which was
supposed to be released in fall 2004, has filtered
through the press and the researchers' union website and
recently brought back several thousand researchers to the
streets at the end of January. Confronted with other
social unrest in the education sector, the GOF announced
that the draft was obsolete and that consultations with
researchers will continue in the weeks ahead.

Comment - U.S. angle


7. With the status and operating modes of the new ANR to
be defined and ties with the PM's office and Research
Ministry still unclear, the GOF continues to look
carefully at the U.S. model and welcomes opportunities to
discuss U.S. policy and mechanisms to encourage
innovative approaches to research. Recently, OSTP's Dr.
Kathy Olsen met with senior officials at the Research
Ministry for an exchange of views. Her presentation of
the respective roles of OSTP and federal agencies was
enthusiastically received.